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article imageUS Navy Fighter Lifted From Lake Michigan 64 Years After Crash

By Christopher Szabo     Dec 7, 2009 in World
A famous World War Two fighter has been recovered from the depths of Lake Michigan more than 60 years after it crashed during a training exercise.
Cranes pulled the US Navy F6F carrier fighter out of 250 feet (83 meters) of water in Waukegan, Illinois, about 40 miles north of Chicago.
The Grumman fighter was lost on January 5, 1945, during a training exercise. Lieutenant Walter Elcock was practicing landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Sable when the crash occurred. According to Discovery News, Elcock, now 89 years old and living in Atlanta, told the Daily Mail he had brought the aircraft in too low and crashed into the water.
The plane lay there until last week.
This is the sixth Hellcat fighter recovered from Lake Michigan. In April, a US Naval dive-bomber, a Douglas SBD Dauntless was pulled from the lake.
Reference works credit the Hellcat as being the key US Navy fighter of World War Two, having a number of advantages over both its predecessor, the Grumman F4F Wildcat and opposing Japanese aircraft.
The designer of Japan’s top fighter, the famous Mitsubishi A6M ”Zero,”
Jiro Horikoshi, wrote of the Hellcat in his book Zero!:
Of the many American fighters we encountered in the Pacific, the Hellcat was the only aircraft, which could acquit itself with distinction in a fighter versus fighter dogfight.
A total of 12,275 Hellcats were built between the plane's first flight in October, 1942 and the end of the Pacific War. The British naval Fleet Air Arm flew 12 squadrons of the aircraft, according to David Monday's The Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War Two.
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